DDA approves updated terms for Whitehouse parking lot

THREE RIVERS -- The Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority approved new sale terms for the Whitehouse Building parking lot during a special meeting Friday.

Under the new agreement, the DDA would donate the lot to the City of Three Rivers so the city can enter into an agreement with building owner Jamie Clark for the sale of the lot. When the sale is made, in exchange for the lot, Clark will pledge $500 to the DDA for five years, and pledge an additional $5,000 in the fifth year for a capital improvement project for the DDA.

The special meeting was called Friday due to some confusion on the updated arrangement, which was brought to the attention of the DDA via a text by City Manager and DDA board member Joe Bippus during the previous Friday’s meeting. After reviewing the proposed agreement, DDA Board Chair Andrew George said it was a “better arrangement” for all parties involved.

“At the end of the day, this is a far better arrangement than what we originally worked out with Mr. Clark, which is fantastic,” George said. “It totals out to $7,500, and the only reason I believe it was tabled was so we could get some clarification on what all that meant, coming to us at the last minute.”

George said he also talked with Bippus about the deal and got clarification on the specifics, and said the DDA would be “silly” to not move forward with it.

DDA Board Treasurer Tim Raakman said while he wanted to just give the lot away and not require anything back, noting the lot was “probably worth” $10,000, he appreciated Clark for wanting to take on the project and being a “generous man.”

George agreed with Raakman’s assessment.

“I’m very appreciative of Mr. Clark for what he’s done for the community and his commitment to the DDA, to this organization, his commitment to bettering Three Rivers, and that includes restoring buildings,” George said.

George also noted the financial arrangement will be beneficial for the DDA, who had owned the parking lot and used it as public parking for a number of years.

“Even though we didn’t know originally we had this parking lot, the DDA is not financially solvent enough to just give property away all the time. Every year, we come to the table to figure out how we’re going to finance our following year, and that makes it more difficult when we’re giving things away all the time,” George said. “I’m happy with the arrangement on the table right now between us and Mr. Clark, and I think he’s getting a good deal. It’d cost us a fortune if we kept it.”

Bippus said the arrangement for the DDA to donate the lot to the city was necessary due to line of title issues, with George noting the donation would give Clark a “clear path to ownership” of both the building and the lot.

The parking lot sale is part of a project Clark is undertaking to renovate and restore the Whitehouse Building on South Main Street to be a downtown apartment building. Bippus said Clark originally estimated the project could begin sometime in 2023, but that he told him he wanted to get it “in the pipeline” sooner.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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